Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  2.2-6.2.2009, No. 254  
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Table of contents


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Foreign Policy

China adds $11.7 mln in aid to Senegal (Xinhua)
Dakar - China adds 80 million yuan (about 11.7 million U.S. dollars) in its support to a variety of projects in Senegal, the Chinese Embassy has said. […] Under the agreement, China will provide extra support to the projects including the National Grand Theatre in Dakar, the Museum of Black Civilization, the Pikine Pediatric Hospital and the rehabilitation of 11 stadiums across the country. The newly inked assistance is the latest in a series since November 2008, when China committed 70 million yuan (10.2 million dollars) in non-reimbursable aid to Senegal. On Jan. 6, the two countries signed another two documents under which China will fund Senegal's national security network and the upgrading of Senbus bus parking place. The agreements show "the dynamic power of our bilateral cooperation," Ambassador Lu said. "China, the biggest developing country ... will respect its aid engagements and cooperation with other developing countries, especially African countries," the ambassador added. […]. ^ top ^

Creating a brighter future for Sino-EU relations (Xinhua)
Beijing - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to the European Union (EU) headquarters on Friday during the Chinese Spring Festival, the most important Chinese festival, at the invitation of President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, strengthened both sides' confidence to develop ties. As the visit deepened mutual trust, promoted bilateral cooperation, the Sino-EU relations are facing a new opportunity of development, and will surely have a brighter future. […] For the moment, the central task facing China and the EU is to enhance cooperation and overcome the current difficulties posed by the international financial crisis. Cooperation and enhanced coordination between China and the EU, which are the world's two big economic entities, will further boost the convenience and liberalization of trade and investment, strongly bolster the international community's confidence to strengthen cooperation and jointly grapple with the current crisis, and thus make major contributions to help the world economy rid stagnancy as soon as possible. […] During their meetings, both sides agreed to hold the 2nd Sino-EU high-level trade and economic dialogue in April and the 11th Sino-EU summit meeting within this year, which will further promote Sino-EU cooperation. […]. ^ top ^

Hu, Obama agree on further dialogue (People's Daily)
President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama expressed their mutual desire to strengthen bilateral ties on Friday during a telephone conversation. Hu said China is ready for further dialogue and wants to promote trust and cooperation with the United States. Describing Sino-US ties as "the most important" for both sides, Obama said strengthened dialogue and cooperation is in the interests of the world at large. […]. ^ top ^

China and EU make deals on development cooperation (People's Daily)
China and the European Union signed an agreement on the financial arrangement of five China-EU joint development projects in Brussels on Jan. 30, 2009, when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the European Union headquarters. According to the press release by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the European Union will offer 48.8 million euro of assistance to support bilateral cooperation on government management, energy, environment and higher education. […] Over the past 20 years, more than 70 cooperative projects totaling 700 million euro have been conducted in the development cooperation framework. Among them, 52, worth 420 million euro, have been completed. […]. ^ top ^

Premier Wen says cooperation top priority to tackle financial crisis (Xinhua)
Cambridge - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday that cooperation to tide over global financial difficulties is a "top priority" and urged people to "see China in the light of development." […] The premier reiterated the position of the Chinese government, saying countries should first run their own affairs well and refrain from shifting troubles onto others. They also should carry out cooperation with full sincerity and avoid pursuing their own interests at the expense of others, he said. […] Wen said necessary reform of the international monetary and financial systems should be carried out to establish a new international financial order that is fair, equitable, inclusive and well-managed. […] On China's development, Wen said the argument that a big power is bound to seek hegemony does not apply to China. "Seeking hegemony goes against China's cultural tradition as well as the will of the Chinese people," Wen said, adding that China's development does not harm or threaten anyone. The premier pledged that China will be "a peace-loving country, a country that is eager to learn from and cooperate with others" and committed to building a harmonious world. […]. ^ top ^

China urges improved relations on Korean Peninsula through peaceful dialogue (People's Daily)
China urged the north and south on the Korean Peninsula Tuesday to improve bilateral ties through dialogue and promote reconciliation and cooperation. "Maintaining the stability of the peninsula is in the interests of the north and south of the peninsula," Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters at a regular press conference. "As a neighbor of the Korean Peninsula, China always hopes that both sides of the peninsula can improve relations through dialogue and push forward conciliation and cooperation," Jiang said. […] China hoped the north and south of the Korean Peninsula could improve relations through dialogue and coordination so as to maintain peace and stability in northeast Asia, said the spokeswoman. […]. ^ top ^

China upset about India toy ban, likely to ask WTO for settlement (People's Daily)
The Chinese government protests India's ban on Chinese toy imports, saying likely to ask the World Trade Organization to probe into the case if the ban violates WTO laws, the English language newspaper China Daily Newspaper reported on Wednesday. The move came after India announced a six-month ban on toy imports from China on Jan. 23. However, the Indian government gave no reason for the ban effective immediately. The Indian media said it was aimed at protecting Indian manufacturers from being squeezed by the cheaper Chinese products, according to the newspaper. […] "The ban can't hold water. The Indian side is doomed to lose in the court if the Chinese government appealed to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body", the newspaper quoted Fu Donghui, managing director of Allbright Law Firm Beijing, as saying. […]. ^ top ^

President Hu to visit Africa to consolidate friendship (People's Daily)
Beijing - Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay state visits to four African nations as well as Saudi Arabia from Tuesday to Feb 17 in his first overseas trip this year, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu announced Tuesday. Analysts said the trips to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius would help prove Beijing's sincerity in consolidating friendship with the continent. Jiang said the purpose of the visit was to help in "further consolidating China's friendship with these countries and promoting the implementation of the measures announced at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation". […] In an interview with the Beijing News last month, Xu Jinghu, director of the African department under the Foreign Ministry, said China has signed financial aid deals with 48 African countries and preferential loan agreements with 20 nations. […]. ^ top ^

China urges Japan to immediately cease action on Diaoyu Islands (People's Daily)
Beijing - China urged Japan on Thursday to immediately cease action concerning the Diaoyu Islands issue, noting that the actions, aimed to strengthen control over the islands, are infringement to China's territorial sovereignty. The Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets have been Chinese territories since ancient times, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in response to a question at a routine press conference. She noted that China holds indisputable sovereignty over the islands. "Any actions from Japan to strengthen the actual control over the islands are infringement to China's territorial sovereignty, which is illegal and invalid, and should be stopped immediately," Jiang said. According to Japanese media reports, the Japanese coastguard has stationed PLH (patrol vessel large with helicopter) on the islands, saying the action was aimed to defend against "invasion" from Chinese marine survey ships. ^ top ^

Foreign Ministry: UN human rights review important to China (Xinhua)
Beijing - China attaches great importance to the United Nations' periodic country review on human rights, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday. "China has submitted the country report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and hopes to hold a constructive dialogue with member states of the UNHRC," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing. The United Nations opened its fourth session of the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on Feb. 2. […] China "has always respected and protected human rights," said Jiang. "We will continue to promote and develop China's human rights activities." She also said it was normal that each country had its own opinion on the human rights issue, adding that China has always advocated narrowing the differences through dialogue and exchange on the basis of equality and mutual respect. "We hope that relevant organizations will take a fair and objective attitude toward China's human rights development," Jiang emphasized. […]. ^ top ^

China urges developed countries to further fulfill commitment to greenhouse gas emissions cuts (People's Daily)
Beijing - China on Thursday urged developed countries to further fulfill their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after 2012, saying it is the key to the success for the meeting on the climate change to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of 2009. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu stressed at a regular press briefing "the substantive difference" between the voluntary emissions cuts of the developing countries and compulsory emissions cuts of already developed countries. The developed countries and developing countries shoulder different responsibilities and obligations. […] The total volume of China's greenhouse gas emissions remains high because of its intense population, Jiang explained, citing the fact that the greenhouse gas emissions volume per capita and the volume of China's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions were at a very low level. […] The Chinese government, which attaches great importance to climate change, has enacted policies to address issue of climate change. According to a five-year plan, the energy consumption per-unit GDP is expected to drop by about 20 percent by 2010 compared to that of 2005. […]. ^ top ^

Climate change a new focus of Sino-US talks (SCMP)
Climate change will become a new focal point in bilateral dialogue between China and the United States, an official in the administration of US President Barack Obama said. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would stress the importance of new steps on energy and global warming when she visited China this month, the official said. […] Officials and experts on both sides agree that a new international climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol is impossible without agreements between the two nations - the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. […] A report released yesterday offers a blueprint for Mr Obama and Chinese leaders to begin addressing together how to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to rising temperatures. […]. ^ top ^


Domestic Policy

Hu calls for PLA loyalty as fears grow of trouble ahead: President criticises the army over poor discipline (SCMP)
President Hu Jintao told leaders of the People's Liberation Army to "strengthen military discipline" and make sure the army stays absolutely loyal to the Communist Party as China enters a year of harsh economic reality and sensitive anniversaries. In a meeting with the top brass of the Central Military Committee - the supreme command unit of the PLA of which Mr Hu is the chairman - he criticised the army for poor discipline and told his generals to make sure the military always followed the orders of the party, Xinhua reported. […] "We should unify the thinking of all soldiers and officials to the same direction as the central authorities. We must make sure the army will follow the instruction of the CMC and the Communist Party at any time, under any circumstances," Mr Hu said. […] Mr Hu also called on the army to modernise itself and prepare for possible "military struggle". He said domestic and international environments were changing fast and the military leaders must stay in sync with the changes. […]. ^ top ^

Government spending puts country in deficit (SCMP)
China swung into deficit last year after a huge burst of government spending in the year's final weeks to combat the economic slowdown, the Ministry of Finance revealed in data published yesterday. Combined spending of central and local governments was 1.66 trillion yuan (HK$1.88 trillion) in December, up 30.8 per cent on a year earlier. That far outstripped fiscal revenues of 325 billion yuan in the month, an increase of 3.3 per cent on a year earlier, the ministry said on its website. The result was a striking reversal in the mainland budget picture. China closed its books on 2008 with an implied public deficit of about 111 billion yuan after entering the final month sitting on a surplus of 1.2 trillion yuan. The mild deficit, amounting to roughly 0.4 per cent of gross domestic product, still leaves Beijing with ample room to open its cash taps and cut taxes, cushioning drops in export income and private investment. China ran a surplus of 0.7 per cent of GDP in 2007, according to official figures. […]. ^ top ^

Spending splurge ushers in New Year (China Daily)
Months after the government shifted its focus to domestic consumption following an unprecedented export slowdown caused by the economic crisis, Chinese consumers have finally responded with their wallets. The country's consumer spending rose strongly during the Lunar New Year holiday period, which just ended, the Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday. Retail sales climbed to 290 billion yuan ($42.5 billion) in the week through Saturday, up 13.8 percent from the equivalent holiday week in 2008, the ministry estimated. […] A total of 248 million people traveled by road in the week through Saturday, up 5.6 percent from last year, the transport ministry said. ^ top ^

Countryside key to revival: Beijing - Policy paper maps out rural development plans (SCMP)
China's vast, backward countryside, rather than its modern coastal metropolises, holds the key to the nation's economic revival, the central government says in its first policy document of the year. The document, jointly issued by the State Council and the Communist Party Central Committee, warns that 2009 will be "the toughest year" so far this century, and the economic slowdown will put severe pressure on agriculture and the rural economy. "The development of agriculture and rural areas in 2009 is of special significance," the document, released yesterday, says. […] It promises that the central government will roll out a number of measures to stimulate the fragile rural economy, provide better social security for rural residents and strengthen the protection of farmers' and migrant workers' rights. This is the sixth policy document to address rural problems, indicating top leaders' rising worries about the mainland's restive countryside. […] The document urges local authorities to create jobs in rural areas and help farmers boost their incomes. […] The document outlines 28 broad policies, without giving specifics, and orders local governments to follow them faithfully. More money will be spent on agricultural subsidies, and budget outlays and bond revenues will be "skewed" towards villages. And in a step that could stir friction with other major agricultural nations, it suggests controls on some imports may be tightened. […] Free training and education will be provided for unemployed migrant workers to help them find jobs. Local governments are told to spend more on social services and infrastructure. The document warns local authorities to pay close attention to any possible source of social unrest. […]. ^ top ^

Sanlu chief lodges appeal (SCMP)
Tian Wenhua, the former chairwoman of the Sanlu Group, yesterday lodged an appeal against a life sentence imposed last month for her role in the melamine milk-contamination scandal, her lawyer said. Tian had appealed to the Higher People's Court of Hebei as "the sentencing in the first trial did not clearly distinguish the facts and lacked evidence", her lawyer said. Tian was convicted at the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court of manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products. Tian was also fined 24.7 million yuan (HK28.05 million). ^ top ^

China vows to avoid involving police in rural social unrest in "hardest" year (People's Daily)
Beijing - The government would not use police forces as the first resort to dealing with possible social unrest in rural areas this year, a senior Chinese official said Monday. "Police will not be called in unless there are extreme cases of violence, such as beating, looting and arson," Chen Xiwen, director of the office of the central leading group on rural work, told a press conference here. His remarks came as the country faces new threats to social stability after about 20 million migrant workers returned to rural homes after losing their jobs as the global financial crisis takes a toll on the economy. To maintain social stability is a daunting task for the government in "the hardest year for China's economic development since entering the new century", as Premier Wen Jiabao said in January. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese premier rejects allegations of currency manipulation (People's Daily)
London - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday rejected allegations that China is manipulating its currency exchange rate, vowing to keep the yuan at a reasonable and balanced level. "To allege that China is manipulating its currency exchange rate is completely unfounded," Wen said in an interview with the Financial Times. […] Asked if China's 2-trillion-dollar reserve should be partly to blame for the financial crisis, Wen said such a view is "ridiculous." "I think the reason for this financial crisis is the imbalance of some economies themselves. They have for a long time had double deficits and they keep up a high level of consumption on the basis of mass borrowing," he said. […] "I think that it is confusing right and wrong when people who have been overspending blame those who lent them the money," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese farmers' income up 8% in 2008, but official warns of tough 2009 (Xinhua)
Beijing - Chinese farmers' net per capita income rose 8 percent last year, but it would be difficult to maintain that pace of growth in 2009, a senior agriculture official told a press conference here Monday. Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, said the figure was 4,761 yuan (697 U.S. dollars) in 2008, the fifth consecutive year of 6-percent-plus growth. However, he said, farm incomes would be affected by the global economic crisis, which has reduced demand and prices of many commodities. […]. ^ top ^

Wen confident that China to keep growth at about 8% in 2009 (People's Daily)
London - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday he is confident that China will maintain economic growth at "about 8 percent" this year. "China's GDP was at 9 percent as a whole last year, but in the fourth quarter of 2008 we also had a big decline and it fell to 6.8 percent," Wen told the Financial Times. "Our economy is under increased downward pressures and all this means that we are now facing great difficulties." However, the premier said he still feels confident under such circumstances, adding the confidence of growth at "about 8 percent" is dependent on four factors, including correct, effective policy measures. All of the measures the government has adopted are aimed at boosting consumer spending and stimulating the real economy on which the crisis has landed its major impact, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Cadres told to stand up to unrest (SCMP)
Senior Communist Party officials told cadres yesterday to show courage and face the public when dealing with social unrest, rather than hide behind the police. Zhou Yongkang, the minister in charge of public security and law, said local officials must properly deal with disputes arising from the economic crisis, such as conflicts over unpaid wages or bankruptcies, to "lessen the economic and social risks". "Take as the aim discovering [problems] early, grasping them firmly and dealing with them well, and deal with contradictions among the people and 'mass incidents' in accordance with the law," he wrote in an article published yesterday in the party journal Seek Truth, using official terminology for protests and riots. […]. ^ top ^

Govt policies to assist farmers (China Daily)
The Chinese government will carry out a series of measures to stabilize the prices of agricultural products and increase farmers' income, a senior agriculture official told a press conference yesterday. Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, said the government will offer more subsidies, provide more advanced technology and improve public services to help farmers reduce their production cost. "The subsidies to the agricultural production materials are expected to increase to 120 billion yuan this year, 17.1 billion more than last year," Chen said. The government will also increase the lowest purchase price to avoid a big drop in the market price, he said. The new purchase price for grain in 2009 is up 13 to 16 percent over last year. "This year, Chinese farmers will gain 110 billion yuan more from growing crops thanks to the increasing purchase prices," Chen said. […]. ^ top ^

China central gov't cashes in another $19 bln for stimulus plan (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's central government has launched a new stimulus plan totaling 130 billion yuan (19 billion U.S. dollars) to boost its economy, an official of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Tuesday. The fund is the second batch of investment from the central budget following a 100 billion yuan allocated in the fourth quarter of 2008. Both were included in the country's 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus package announced in November. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday the 130 billion yuan had been put in place in terms of real funds and on what projects the money will be spent during an interview with the London-based Financial Times. […] Tuesday morning's 21st Century Business Herald rolled out specific plans with 28 billion yuan to provide housing for low-income earners and 31.5 billion yuan for public facilities, such as electricity, water and road construction in rural areas, citing an unidentified source. The paper also said 17 billion yuan would go to health and education sectors, 11 billion to environmental protection projects, 15 billion to economic restructuring, and the remaining 27.5 billion yuan to unspecified big infrastructure projects. […]. ^ top ^

Nuke power capacity set to increase (China Daily)
The country is poised to revise its energy development plans by nearly doubling its nuclear power capacity in the next decade, energy authorities have said. The revision is still awaiting approval from the State Council, the Chinese-language 21st Century Business Herald yesterday cited sources close to the National Energy Administration (NEA) as saying. There are currently 11 nuclear reactors in operation in the country with a combined capacity of about 9 gigawatts (GW), supplying more than 1 percent of the country's energy needs. NEA head Zhang Guobao last year said the country would raise the share of nuclear power in the national energy mix for 2020 from 4 percent, as set in 2006, to 5 percent. The target capacity for nuclear power was set at 40 GW by 2020. The latest energy revision aims for nuclear power to generate 70 GW for the country by 2020. The country would have to produce at least 60 GW of nuclear power to meet its 5 percent goal, the China Electricity Council (CEC) has said. "We have the ability to raise our nuclear power capacity to at least 60 GW 70 GW is not unthinkable," Fu Manchang, secretary-general of the Chinese Nuclear Society, told China Daily yesterday. The authorities would also "start building eight more nuclear power plants in the next three years, with 16 reactors whose total installed capacity will surpass 10 GW", the NEA sources were quoted as saying. […] The country will also invest 580 billion yuan ($84.8 billion) in the power industry this year and will accelerate its development of nuclear power plants and wind farms, CCTV reported. […]. ^ top ^

Falun Gong spreading message on banknotes (SCMP)
The outlawed Falun Gong spiritual group is making itself heard again on the mainland, using a novel method to spread its message and mark the 10th anniversary of its banning. The group is printing messages on real renminbi banknotes and putting the marked money back into circulation. In Yunnan province in the southwest, vendors and shopkeepers said they had received many "Falun Gong notes" over the Lunar New Year holiday - traditionally a peak shopping season. […] The messages from the spiritual group defend its beliefs and ask the central government to stop persecuting its members. […] Despite central government crackdowns, the group has proved resilient. Its public profile on the mainland has greatly diminished, but with the anniversary of its banning coming up on July 22, it is apparently trying to be heard once again. […]. ^ top ^

China's anti-porn drive to include cell phones, other mobile devices (People's Daily)
Beijing - China's anti-pornography drive will include videos distributed via mobile electronic devices, officials said Wednesday. A special campaign was jointly launched by five departments, including the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to combat distribution of porn videos via cell phones. Public security units were ordered to step up inspection of cell phone and audio-video shops and cooperate with telecommunication authorities as part of the drive. The campaign will last until mid-April, and the main targets are cell phone shops that provide game, music and video downloads. […] China has been cracking down on online porn and lewd content over the past month under a nationwide campaign. As of Tuesday, officials had blocked 1,575 porn sites and detained 41 people. ^ top ^

Stimulus package to provide Guangdong with 150 projects (SCMP)
Leaders in the mainland's battered manufacturing heartland of Guangdong have unveiled 150 key industrial and infrastructure projects in an unprecedented package to help ignite economic activity in the province. But economists doubted whether all the projects listed in the package - the combined value of which was not given - were feasible or economically efficient. The stimulus package included the construction of 19 experimental zones for economic reforms and streamlined administration, 42 key domestic or international industrial bases, 11 new industrial zones and 63 large infrastructure projects, mainland media reported yesterday. […] Most of the infrastructure projects detailed in the package are highways, railways, bridges, airports, power plants and water-control projects. Neither Mr Wang nor the blueprint presented any substantial steps to transform the delta into an upgraded industrial hub. […] Analysts also said the unprecedented scale of the planned stimulus package indicated the province was confronting its hardest times in decades. […]. ^ top ^

Guangdong to spend $4 bln to aid rural workforce (China Daily)
Beijing - More than 30 billion yuan (4.4 billion U.S. dollars) is to be pumped into helping jobless rural workers get back to work, the Guangdong provincial government said this week. Improving employment for migrant workers in Guangdong will be the top priority as the southern province steps up efforts to enhance development of agriculture and rural areas over the next four years, it said. The notice on Tuesday coincided with the release of the central government's first policy document of the year at the weekend, which highlighted the significance of agricultural development. […] The Guangdong provincial government plans to increase the per capita income of farmers from 6,400 yuan (935 dollars) in 2008 to 9,000 yuan in 2012. […] "The development of agriculture and rural areas is of special significance this year as the country is witnessing tough challenges brought by the global financial crisis, and Guangdong has entered a critical period of industrial transition," said Ding Li, a researcher with the Guangdong provincial situation research and study center. […]. ^ top ^

Guangdong braces for job-seeking hordes (SCMP)
Guangdong authorities are expecting millions of unemployed migrant workers to pour into the province in search of work, despite official warnings that the prospects are slim. Provincial labour authorities say 10.25 million migrant workers left for the Lunar New Year holiday, and of the 9.7 million expected to return soon, about 20 per cent would find it extremely difficult to find work. Gan Wenchuan, director of the Guangdong Labour and Social Security Department's employment bureau, said at least 2 million migrant workers who lost their jobs last year or were newcomers to the Pearl River Delta this year had few chances of finding jobs, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported yesterday. Mr Gan said Guangdong's manufacturing industry would lose 700,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year and at least 1.1 million university graduates from around the country would seek work in the province. […] The central government admitted on Monday that 20 million, or 15.4 per cent, of the mainland's 130 million migrant workers were jobless. […]. ^ top ^

Highest alert issued to fight drought threat (SCMP)
The central government put the country on its highest level of environmental emergency alert yesterday, in response to a drought that has stricken eight northern provinces since the autumn and threatened the nation's goal of ever-increasing grain harvests. The level-one emergency call requires all provincial governments to give priority to drought-fighting efforts, and for transport agencies such as railways, road and aviation departments to hasten the movement of drought-relief materials. The Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters says the drought has affected about 10 million hectares of crops, with 4.29 million people and 2.07 million livestock facing water shortages. […] Besides the 100 million yuan (HK$113 million) in special agricultural subsidies announced this week, the Ministry of Finance yesterday released 300 million yuan more in contingency funds for relief efforts, its website reported. Official statistics show that rainfall in Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei and Shaanxi has dropped by up to 80 per cent year on year since October, directly threatening their winter wheat crops. […]. ^ top ^



Shanghai property baron gets life (SCMP)
A former official, known as the property baron of Shanghai's financial district, was sentenced to life in prison for graft yesterday, mainland media reported. The Shanghai No1 Intermediate People's Court gave the life sentence to former Pudong district deputy head Kang Huijun for taking more than 5.9 million yuan (HK$6.7 million) in bribes and having 12.1 million yuan in unexplained assets. The court said that Kang, 52, had seriously violated the law by profiting from his posts, and took bribes between 1993 and 2007. […]. ^ top ^

231 countries, int'l organizations to attend Shanghai expo (Xinhua)
An organizer for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo said Thursday that 231 countries and international organizations have confirmed their participation in the event to date. The participants, 185 countries and 46 international organizations, include the European Union (EU) and its 27 member states, said an official of the expo coordination bureau on Thursday. […] The expo, running from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2010, will feature five theme pavilions -- "Urbanian," "City as a Form of Life," "Urban Planet," "Urban Future" and "Urban Culture." An estimated 70 million visitors are expected to attend the 184-day expo with the theme of "Better city, better life.". ^ top ^



Taipei sets aside NT$715b in revised stimulus plan targeting job creation (SCMP)
Taiwan's government will budget NT$715.1 billion (HK$164 billion) for a revised economic stimulus plan that could create up to 280,000 jobs in the next four years. More than NT$320 billion would be used in seven projects to create about 150,000 jobs this year in the face of massive layoffs and company closures, a cabinet spokesman said yesterday. But the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the plan was a short-term project aimed at pleasing the public and would waste government resources. […].^ top ^

Two more guilty pleas in corruption case involving Taiwan ex-leader Chen (Xinhua)
Taipei - Two more people, including the sister-in-law of former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's wife, pled guilty Thursday to money laundering charges that also involved Chen and his family. That brings the number of the defendants, 14 in all, who have pled guilty for alleged roles in the corruption case so far to nine. Chen Chun-ying and businessman Guo Chuan-ching told a Taipei court they were guilty Thursday morning but asked for a reprieve or leniency. Chen Shui-bian and his wife Wu Shu-chen were charged with embezzling 104 million New Taiwan dollars (3.15 million U.S. dollars) in public funds and accepting bribes of about 9 million U.S. dollars in a land purchase deal. […].^ top ^

Taiwan eyes bridge linking Quemoy, Fujian (SCMP)
Taiwan is considering building a bridge from one of its islands to the mainland, officials said yesterday, in the latest sign of warming cross-strait ties. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou asked his top economic planners to conduct a feasibility study last year when he visited Quemoy, a group of islands off the mainland controlled by Taiwan, his spokesman said. […] The bridge would span 8.6km and link Quemoy with Xiamen in Fujian, at a cost of up to NT$13.2 billion (HK$3 billion). The spokesman denied reports that the president had ordered the bridge's construction, saying the final decision would depend on the study results. The proposal is being seen as another litmus test of cross-strait ties, as Quemoy has been a constant reminder of lingering hostilities between the two sides since they split in 1949 at the end of the civil war. […].^ top ^



Dalai Lama back in hospital (SCMP)
The Dalai Lama was taken to a New Delhi hospital for medical tests after experiencing discomfort in his arms, his spokesman Tenzin Takhla said. The 73-year-old exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has had a number of health problems recently. ^ top ^



China's natural gas output continues to rise, up 12.3% in 2008 (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's production of natural gas rose 12.3 percent year on year to 76.1 billion cubic meters in 2008 as the government promoted cleaner energy, an industry association said. The annual growth rate was down from 23.1 percent in 2007, the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association (CPCIA) said. China consumed 67.3 billion cubic meters of gas in 2007, an annual increase of 19.9 percent, according to statistics from BP. This compared to 55.6 billion cubic meters in 2006, up 21.6 percent from the previous year. Consumption figures for 2008 are unavailable. China's production and consumption of natural gas have been rising steadily since the government set a target of raising the proportion of natural gas in total energy consumption to 5.3 percent by 2010 from 2.8 percent in 2005. The plan was aimed to shift away from a heavy reliance on coal, which accounts for about 70 percent of total energy consumption. […]. ^ top ^

China auto export slowdown in 2008 amid falling demand (Xinhua)
Beijing - China's export of autos, including auto parts and components, increased 21.6 percent to 49.73 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, but down 23.71 percentage points compared with the previous year, China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said here on Wednesday. Total imports reached 31.43 billion U.S. dollars, up 20.96 percent year-on-year and showed "no obvious decline" compared with 2007, according to the CAAM. The pace of the country's auto export slowed down in 2008, especially in the second half, affected by a shrinking overseas market. China exported 680,700 cars last year, up 11.1 percent year on year. […]. ^ top ^

China's economy shows signs of recovery (People's Daily)
Since December 2008, the growth rate of industrial production in China has started to rise again, financial institutions have sharply increased loan amounts and the growth of consumption has been accelerating. All these indicate that China's economy is showing signs of recovery. According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the industrial production growth rate rose slightly in December 2008. During the same month, industrial added value from industrial enterprises above the designated size increased by 5.7 percent year-on-year, 0.3 percentage points higher than the previous month, but 11.7 percentage points lower than the same period of 2007. For the whole year of 2008, the industrial added value from industrial enterprises above the designated size (the enterprises with an annual income over 5 million yuan) increased by 12.9 percent, and decreased by 5.6 percentage points compared to the previous year. […]. ^ top ^

China raises garment, textile export tax rebate rate to 15% (Xinhua)
Beijing - China will increase the tax rebate rate for textile and garment exports from 14 percent to 15 percent, an executive meeting of the State Council (Cabinet) announced Wednesday. The move would reduce exporters' costs and support the textile industry, the Council said. The effective date of the new rate wasn't specified. In a national plan to invigorate China's textile industry adopted by the State Council Wednesday, the government would allocate funds for companies that produce textiles or fibers, or operate in the textile printing and dyeing sector, to upgrade technology and develop domestic brands. […] China has raised the export tax rebate rate for textiles three times since last August. The previous increase in November took the rate from 13 percent to 14 percent. […]. ^ top ^



One in 3 Ulaanbaatar households has internet (
There has been a sharp increase in the number of Internet users in Mongolia in the last few years, with a recent survey revealing that 30 percent of all Ulaanbaatar households have Internet connection. About 90 percent of them have e-mail accounts, 77 percent surf the Web, and 52 percent use the Internet primarily for information. Of the surfers, 36 percent check on health matters and 34 percent look for travel news. ^ top ^

300 billion mnt in government bonds to be issued (Mongol Messenger)
During 2009 the Government of Mongolia is to issue bonds valued at 300 billion MNT. Parliament has granted Government the right to issue bonds in order to recover Budget losses and all procedures to issue instalment bonds are discussed by Parliament. These bonds are only to be sold to the Mongol Bank. Parliament Standing Committee members mentioned that policies of not increasing the supply of money and supporting industry are being pursued at this present time of budget difficulty. In particular, it was planned to spend 300 billion MNT to establish additional export directions and manufacturing industry opportunities, support employment and establish small- and medium-sized enterprises. ^ top ^


Philipp Orga
Embassy of Switzerland

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
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